You’re probably familiar with the concept of “static stretching”: Touch your toes for thirty seconds, lean into the stretch until it feels mildly to moderately uncomfortable but not painful (or, a stretch that “hurts good”), then relax. While the evidence on static stretching is inconclusive, it is generally recommended as a way to prevent injuries and improve recovery time. You might not, however, be familiar with the term “dynamic stretching.” Unlike static stretching, where you target one muscle and hold a pose for a given period of time, in dynamic stretching, you move your body through a range of motion and engage several muscles as part of the stretching routine. While static stretching can increase muscle-specific flexibility and is likely more restorative and calming after a workout, it may actually inhibit performance when used immediately before exercise, in some situations.1
Dynamic Stretching, on the other hand, has generally been shown to enhance performance, or at least not diminish it, when used before intense exercise. As such, it is an important and often overlooked component in a pre-workout warm-up, and several scholarly articles 2 recommend incorporating dynamic stretching (at below maximum intensity) to enhance performance and reduce injuries. Of course, every workout is different and will benefit from different stretches, but here are four dynamic stretches that can prepare you for any exercise plan.
- Leg Swings: Stand on one foot (feel free to balance against a wall with your hand) and
slowly swing the other leg forward and backwards, trying to swing a little higher each
- Cat-Cow: After getting on your hands and knees, switch between arching your back
(spine in a rainbow shape, like a spooked cat) and letting your back sink low in a U
position (like a cow). You may feel a little silly, but this simple dynamic stretch does the
important work of engaging your core muscles and adding flexibility and mobility to your
spine, especially your lumbar region, making it an ideal warm-up for any type of
- Walking Lunges: With each step, lunge deep and then come up, stepping and lunging
again. This engages your legs, hips, and back, and while stretching your hips and
- Arm Circles: rotate your arms in slow, deliberate circles, and remember to extend your
range of motion both forwards and backwards. The slower you go and the more you focus on increasing your range of motion, the more you will warm up your muscles, stretch a variety of muscles in your arms and shoulders, and prevent injury. These four dynamic stretches can be easily and safely incorporated into any pre-workout routine, enhancing performance and reducing the risk of injury. Taking care of your muscles
with regular dynamic stretching will help you get the most out of your workout, and will help you get more value from powerful pre workout supplements, mild fat burners, and other nutritional aids. Nutrients and supplements that may help take care of your muscles, and aid flexibility, include protein powders, zinc, iron, vitamin A and DHA (when taken at appropriate doses and not overused). As well, relaxation is an important part of any stretching routine, so choosing pre-workouts with no jitters can help you stretch and warm up more effectively.
1 Including but not limited to:
Siatras, T., Papadopoulos, G., Mameletzi, D., Gerodimos, V., Kellis, S. “Static and Dynamic
Acute Stretching Effect on Gymnasts’ Speed in Vaulting.” Pediatric Exercise Science. 2003
15(4) 383-391. https://journals.humankinetics.com/doi/abs/10.1123/pes.15.4.383
2 Behm, D. G., Chaouachi, A. “A Review of the Acute Effects of Static and Dynamic Stretching
on Performance.” European Journal of Applied Physiology. 2001 111(11) 2633-51.